Nash Richards McDonagh

The Enigma That Is Rick Nash

I’m throwing my hands up at this point. I literally have no idea what to think of Rick Nash anymore. He is officially a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.

I’ve gone through every range of emotion with this guy during these playoffs.

From rage to sympathy to patience to exhilaration, I’ve felt them all.

And now our $7.8 million dollar, All Star scorer has been reduced to a penalty killing specialist. Alain Vigneault has lost so much confidence in the guy who was acquired to jump start the Rangers anemic postseason offense from 2012, he was given exactly THIRTEEN SECONDS of power play time in Game 1 of Stanley Cup Final compared to 2:10 of ice time on the penalty kill. WOW! Not really what I was anticipating when the Rangers traded away heart and soul players such as Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov along with a top defensive prospect and a first round pick.

To Nash’s credit, despite scoring a paltry three goals in 21 postseason game this spring, he hasn’t allowed it to impact other aspects of his game. He’s been surprising reliable on the penalty kill as well as in the Rangers zone, while buying into the team concept. He’s also tied for second in the NHL playoffs with 68 shots on goal, however, his shooting percentage is an embarrassingly low 4.4%.

Nash has been a streaky scorer during his time with the Blueshirts as he’d go on some impressive scoring runs after a prolonged slump. However, this postseason, his only semblance of breaking out was a three goal in five game stretch against Montreal last series. And even that wasn’t all that spectacular as one of the goals was the final tally in a 7-2 blowout against a goaltender who was ultimately past over for a rookie with just a handful of games, while another goal was a centering pass that deflected off a skate in front. Not exactly dominant efforts.

Even Nash admits his production isn’t nearly enough (…

“I’ve got to finish.”

Nash also added this…

“At this point it’s more about the wins. You’re not worried about your individual statistics. You’re worried about doing whatever you can to help the team win games.”

Spoken like a man who’s failing to provide an offensive lift.

Nash’s teammates have also taken to make excuses for their teammate…

“It’s not just Rick alone,” Derek Stepan said. “We were talking about it [Friday], me and [Kreider], we have to step up our game to help him out too.”

Wait, isn’t your Super Star player supposed to be the one who lifts everyone else’s game around him? Not the other way around.

I know Nash’s concussion history looms large in why he might be so tentative out on the ice, but haven’t we seen enough glimpses of his aggressive play (see Columbus game) to know that’s just another way to exonerate his passive play? I mean, if he’s concerned about his health shouldn’t he not be out on the ice?

I thought Jeremy Roenick put it perfectly the other day as a guest on ESPN Radio

“If I was a defending player whose job was to stop Rick Nash I would love it because I could push him out of the game very easily by being very physical. He hasn’t shown the ability to raise his level and get angry to push himself past the toughness of the playoffs…I don’t see emotion with Rick Nash. If you don’t see facial expressions change. If you don’t see anger or that fight back. That’s the perfect player you want to play against.”

Every round I think that the Rangers can’t win without Nash taking his game to another level and time and again the rest of the team has proven me wrong. With the Rangers now just four wins away from the NHL’s holy grail it’s officially time for Nash to pay his teammates back by puttimg them on his back.


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